The Officiant

Photo: Jenny Westerhoff/New York Magazine

Alexis Greene

How did you get started officiating?
A couple I know was getting married, and one day we were talking about their upcoming wedding. The manager of the groom [Smiths bassist Andy Rourke] had hired an MTV comedian to officiate, but they weren’t sure about it. All of a sudden they were like, “Maybe you could do it.” They were getting married in just a few days, so right then and there, I registered online.

That sounds so easy. Is that all it takes?
You also have to go down to the city clerk’s office to sign this giant book. You flip it open and the dust comes off and you write your name and title inside—I went with reverend. They also let you know the things you have to include in the ceremony—the “I do” parts, for example. If both parties don’t say “I do,” the ceremony is not legally binding.

What’s your philosophy on the speech officiants give at the beginning of the ceremony? Do you go long or short?
My signature is very short speeches. It started with that first wedding. The bride was Italian and didn’t speak much English, so she wanted the speech to be brief. That was fine with me. I just wanted it to be personal and reflective of their style.

How important is it that the officiant jibe with the couple she’s marrying?
You don’t have to know them, but you need to connect with them in some way. If I didn’t get along with a couple, I would suggest they find someone else. As an officiant, you’re going to be a part of something that sets the tone for their whole marriage. It helps to feel like you’re more or less on the same page, so ask your officiant which values she thinks are the most important in a relationship. A shared value system can really enrich the ceremony.

What advice do you give couples during planning?
Don’t forget that it can be fun! I love when couples find creative ways to express the fabric of their relationship. For one wedding I did, right before the vows, a friend of the groom performed the first song the groom had ever played for his bride. It was sweet.

Have you ever seen a couple really bungle the vows?
Thankfully, no. But with the type of weddings I do, there’s frequently no rehearsal. The people I marry are often like, “Let’s just do this.” At one wedding, the groom forgot to arrange for witnesses and hadn’t picked anyone to hold the rings. But we figured it out. I always go over my checklist with couples beforehand.

What was your most nontraditional wedding?
I just did one that took place on the stage of a nightclub. I cried when the bride walked in; she was just so beautiful. I become really invested in the couples I marry.


Illustration by Hanna K. Lee

“I tell couples writing their own vows to visualize their future relationship. What characteristics do they want it to possess? What does their future together look like? They should reference those qualities in the vows they make.”

The Officiant